Is it acceptable for an auditor to submit an UNSIGNED audit report in Word version? I’m QA director at a pharmaceutical CRO. We were recently audited by one of our clients. They refuse to provide a signed audit report because they say it is not their policy to do so. This seems wrong to me on many levels. Is this acceptable?
Thank you for submitting this question to ASQ’s Ask the Experts Program.
I’m not aware of any requirement that states that the auditor must sign the audit report. In situations, where an audit organization is involved, the audit organization’s management or representative signs the audit report cover letter. The name of the lead or principal auditor, as well as the names of all audit team members, should be included in the audit report. The actual audit report may or may not include a signature sign-off from the auditor or audit team members.
If an audit organization is not involved, then it would be the responsibility of the lead or principal auditor to sign the cover letter or audit report to approve its content. As you’re aware, the audit report serves as a record to document the audit results. For this reason, the signature of the auditor or audit organization is essential since it confirms the content of the audit report. This sign-off may appear on the cover letter or the report.
If your organization requires sign-off on the audit report in addition to the cover letter, then this requirement should be identified and agreed upon by all parties prior to conducting the audit. In the future, if no audit organization is involved, consider requiring independent auditors to provide copies of their qualifications and auditor certifications (ASQ CQA, Exemplar Global, IRCA, PECB or other) before the start of the audit. Aforementioned could minimize a recurrence of this or a similar concern.
I hope this helps.
Bill Aston, Managing Director
Aston Technical Consulting Services, LLC